I have yet to see We Are Still Here but it’s one of the main attractions here at the 2015 Stanley Film Festival so I wanted to make sure I had a chance to speak with writer/director Ted Geoghegan before the film’s unveiling to get his thoughts. We discuss what it was like to make his feature directorial debut, how he achieved the icy look of the film, and the practical implications of all of those gore effects,
We Are Still Here screens on May 2nd at 9:45 PM at the Historic Park Theater in Estes Park. It was produced by Travis Stevens and stars Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden, Lisa Marie, Monte Markham, and Andrew Sensenig. Check out my brief chat with Geoghegan below and take a look at the trailer if you’re not yet familiar.
Collider: This is your feature directorial debut. How did you prepare to take it on, and how did (producer) Travis Stevens help in the process?
TED GEOGHEGAN: Well, the film just flat-out wouldn’t exist without Travis. I batted around the script as a potential feature debut for a while, but it wasn’t until Snowfort Pictures got involved that we secured the attention needed to make it happen. I’ve been friends with Travis for years, and we were looking for something to collaborate on for a long time, so when Dark Sky Films agreed to partner with Snowfort I felt like I hit the jackpot. Travis was there every second of the shoot, doing what he does best – cultivating a new director and helping secure a specific vision. It was all very intense, but knowing he had my back made it much more manageable.
What I’ve seen from the film looks stark and striking, how did you coordinate the look with DP Karim Hussain?
GEOGHEGAN: Karim completely understood the style I was going for, since he’s also a huge fan of 70s and 80s Eurohorror. We shot on the new RED Dragon, but used a variety of antique lenses from Karim’s personal collection, which helped give the film a current yet classic look. We storyboarded every day, but broke the rules when the opportunity allowed us to, which hopefully gives the movie a very unique personality.
What’s your writing process on something like this like?
GEOGHEGAN: I wrote the film nearly three years ago, originally planning on having someone else direct. When the opportunity came for me to take on the film myself, I had fallen so in love with the material that I couldn’t resist. We had a handful of rewrites, but ultimately, what you see on film was what I originally envisioned.
I’ve heard the film is quite bloody, especially towards the end. What challenges does orchestrating that kind of mayhem present?
GEOGHEGAN: The film does get rather grisly in its final act, which is all thanks to Marcus Koch and his Oddtopsy FX team, whom I have worked with for well over a decade. Marcus and I have been friends for years and I’ve always loved his work, which is insanely detailed and 100% practical. He handled some fairly over-the-top splatter in a number of films I wrote or produced over the years (including Nikos, Sweatshop, 100 Tears), so it was very easy for me to put my faith in him for my directorial debut.
What’s the one thing festival goers should know about this film before attending?
GEOGHEGAN: We Are Still Here is not a “throwback” or “homage.” It’s a thoroughly modern haunted house film that embraces the unique aesthetic and pacing of the genre films of my youth. If you grew up with VHS tapes of House by the Cemetery and Don’t Look Now, I hope it feels like getting a visit from an old friend – and if you’re new to the genre or simply a casual horror fan, I think you’ll be in for a very pleasant surprise.